Are PSG football shirts really banned in the French city of Marseille?

Are PSG football shirts really banned in the French city of Marseille?
Scores of PSG fans took to the Champs-Elysées in Paris following the Champions League semi-final victory. Photo: AFP
Historically a rival both of Paris' football team and the capital itself, Marseille has made waves by banning PSG football shirts in the city, and then unbanning them. Here's what is going on.

Sunday could be a historic day for French football fans, as the Parisian football team PSG could become the first French team win the prestigious Champions League cup since 1993.

While French authorities put somewhat of a damper on the PSG fans' excitement by banning fanzones in the capital following chaotic scenes during the semi-final, one city went a bit further.

Marseille, a bustling port city in the south of France, banned all PSG shirts, as well as “presence of PSG supporters or people presenting themselves as such and behaving as such,” according to a decree published by the Bouches-du-Rhône police department on Thursday.
 
 
 
The ban was limited to the city's Vieux-Port, an area where many bars show football games, and would last for a period of 12 hours, from 3pm Sunday until 3am Monday.
 
During that period, anyone finding themselves in the designated are with a PSG shirt, scarf or banner could, according to the decree, risk a fine of €30,000 and six months in prison.
 

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But as soon as the decree was published it caused such a storm of outrage that local authorities ended up having to take the whole thing back.
 
The story itself however illustrates a deep-set rivalry between Paris and Marseille that goes deeper than the two football clubs.
 
Like what?
 
Marseille is France's second largest city, and prides itself in being different from the capital in many ways – culture, cooking, dialect, weather, behaviour.
 

The north-south divide is perhaps France's strongest socio-geographical divide, and people from the south tend to see Parisian as snobbish and rude. 
 
People in Marseille on the other hand have a reputation in Paris for being loud and (also) rude and slightly inclined to criminality.
 
 
Back in 1993, it was Marseille's team OM who claimed the Champions League victory, and the threat of PSG unseating them as the sole French winner of the cup is not something everyone would like to see happen.
 
So are there even any PSG fans in Marseille?

Yes! Despite their longstanding rivalry, Marseille is home to many PSG fans (as Paris is to OM fans).

 

However tensions between the two clubs are so high that the French interior ministry regularly issues travel bans for away fans when the clubs meet.

During the semi-finals there were two assaults on people wearing PSG shirts in Marseille, according to AFP.

The video below shows a group of men in Marseilles demanding a PSG supporter removes his shirt.

 

 
But I still don't get why they would ban the shirts?
 
The prefecture justified their decision as a security precaution taken to prevent the chaotic scenes following the semi-finals.
 
“Why did I take this decision? Simply because, when PSG qualified for the final, things did not go well,” police Préfet Emmanuel Barbe told France Inter.
 
Following PSG's semi-final victory, French police arrested 36 people including three minors after clashes on the Champs-Elysées and around PSG's home ground of the Parc des Princes, in the west of the capital.
 
Scores of PSG fans also took to the streets in Marseille in a manner that authorities deemed unsafe during a pandemic.
But is it even legal to ban shirts?
 
Critics claim it's not.
 
Serge Slama, a professor in public law, told Le Parisien that the préfecture's definition was so wide that it concerned “anything that can make one think that you support PSG.”
 
“Shirt, scarf, banner, but also any behavior indicating that you support PSG, applause, whistles, shouts, etc,” Slama said.
 
 
He was backed up by Pierre Barthelemy, a lawyer specialising in the rights of football supporters:

“The decree suffers from a fine error of legal basis,” he tweeted.

 

The backlash prompted the prefecture to retract the decree on Friday, stating that: “Faced with the incomprehension caused by this decree, the préfet decided to repeal it today,” they said in a tweet on Friday.

“The sole purpose of this decree was to protect Parisian supporters, and in no way intended to restrict freedom of movement.”

 

Instead of an outright ban, the Bouches-du-Rhône police department now “invite” all PSG supporters in Marseille not to carry signs of their support in public spaces and to “show moderation in their eventual celebrations.”

In Paris, PSG fans will have to watch the game from their homes or a bar, as the mayor's office has said no to fanzones in the city. 

READ ALSO: 'All I see is a massive Covid-19 cluster' – No fanzones in Paris for Champions League final


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